Retrospective License to Alter?

by Readers Question

2 years ago

Retrospective License to Alter?

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Retrospective License to Alter?

I purchased a leasehold apartment in central London two years ago. At the time, the apartment was near derelict.retro

The lease says structural changes need the permission of the freeholder without this permission being unreasonably withheld.

Shortly after purchasing, I contacted the freeholder with the planned changes I wanted to make. These included removing three walls (non supporting), knocking a whole through a supporting wall and inserting a few new walls to create bathrooms. I submitted a surveyors report stating that the walls we were removing were no structural. I never heard back from them.

Two years on the works have been completed. My neighbours downstairs are convinced that I have not done enough to insulate them from the noise of walking above them. In fact we have laid three kinds of insulation when the lease states we only need to lay underlay. Nonetheless they have complained to the freeholder to take action.

This complaint has triggered them to come and inspect the apartment where they will see the works done.

I need to get a retrospective licence to alter in place. Any advice would be most welcome.

Alexander



Comments

Gary Dully

2 years ago

You might want to consider the Party Wall Act 1996 and the community's dept explanatory booklet, which covers changes to Party Structures such as yours.

It lays down various examples and flow charts of procedures that should be followed with such matters.

See if it helps.
It's quite an eye opener, especially with screaming neighbors.

Alexander Walsh

2 years ago

Gary
Thanks v much.
I've taken a look at the guide. It was somewhat helpful although we are both lease holders in a building in London whereas I think the act is more designed for owners divided by a line.
Thanks again

Gary Dully

2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Alexander Walsh" at "05/01/2016 - 09:45":

It covers party structures such as flats also, but more importantly says that if the other parties do not communicate with your notices, after 14 days a dispute automatically exists in law and a surveyor can issue a decision if undisputed or a 3rd surveyor can be appointed by two other surveyors if they can't agree with your surveyor.

For anyone reading this with a nuisance or stroppy Neighbour insisting on an urgent repair, it gives you two months grace to get it sorted and tells you what to do about gaining access on their land Etc.

Hi Alexander. You should have obtained the freeholder/landlord's consent under the terms of the lease BUT, provided you notified them properly of your intentions (by submitting the plans to the right place and explaining your intentions) they are very likely to be taken to have waived any breach of covenant (i.e., the covenant saying that you must obtain consent) IF they have affirmed the lease with knowledge of the breach by, say, accepting ground rent or service charges from you. Have they demanded/accepted ground rent? If so you will probably be in the clear, although they may grumble. There are some very aggressive firms of solicitors around who may try to challenge you, and demand money for retrospective consent, but waiver of a breach by accepting rent is a well known defence to a breach of covenant action.

I should also say that the freeholder will not be liable in any way for a nuisance caused by you, so it is a little odd that they are interested enough to do an inspection. Good luck!

Alexander Walsh

2 years ago

Charles

Thank you so much for your reply. It was super helpful and made me feel a bit more relaxed. This whole situation really is a big stress. It's horrid having your home threatened.

The freehold of my building is actually held in liquidation by a liquidator and has been for years now. I bought my long leasehold from them. They employ JLL to manage it for them. When I bought the lease the apartment was near derelict and I spoke to them about needing to change the layout. I spoke to JLL directly when I bought the apartment about getting the consents and sent them by email the proposed changed floor plans and the surveyors report. Since we had spoken by phone before, my email to them unfortunately doesn't explicitly say "please give me consent" but it does say "I trust everything is now in order" or something similar. I didn't hear from them and just had to proceed as I was paying a fortune in mortgages for a house I couldn't live in.

In the middle of the works at one point they got access and sent me a legal letter telling me to put back the ceilings I had taken down to do the new wiring. I obviously put back the ceilings. This does mean they knew the works were underway.

I have paid both my service charges and ground rent and am up to date on those. I checked with the agent yesterday.

I've heard nothing from JLL for two years. The neighbors downstairs have complained that they can hear too much noise from my apartment which comes from us walking on their ceiling. They have asked JLL to take urgent immediate action. As part of my renovations I did everything possible to reduce noise between the flats. It's this complaint that has reopened the case and meant they now say they are aware works have been done in breach of the lease and want to inspect.

Alex

Chris Byways

2 years ago

As in liquidation, is buying ALL the leases viable? If liquidators say no, is there one creditor large enough to have clout? They will want money back.

Alexander Walsh

2 years ago

@ Chris :- the other two leases for the other two apartments were sold before. Only the freehold is left which k have enquired about but they have not replied.

Puzzler

2 years ago

Why is there a noise problem, no carpet? Most leases require carpet in upper floors for this reason. If you have floorboards or laminate I suggest you put down some carpet and if not, then you neighbour is being unreasonable. If you live in a flat there is always noise. Any further insulation would be down to the freeholder as part of the common parts.

Alexander Walsh

2 years ago

@ Puzzler :- the neighbors have complained about noise. They have only mentioned impact noise from us walking around. Not ambient noise like music. Our leases do not require carpet but require underlay. We have laid - king span heat insulation between joists, cotton noise insulation between the joists, special impact noise reducing tape along the joists, a chipboard floor, Acoustalay special expensive noise proofing underlay and then a new engineered wood floor. So I'm quite sure we have done all we can.


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